Effect of physiological factors, pathologies, and acquired habits on the sweet taste threshold: A systematic review and meta-analysis

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  • Trius Soler, Marta
  • Dimitri A Santillán-Alarcón
  • Miriam Martínez-Huélamo
  • Rosa M Lamuela-Raventós
  • Juan José Moreno

Sweet taste perception is a key factor in the establishment of the food pattern with nonstatic thresholds. Indeed, taste sensitivity can be influenced by physiological factors (age and sex), pathologies (obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus), and acquired habits (tobacco and alcohol consumption). In order to elucidate how these variables influence the sucrose detection threshold (DT) and recognition threshold (RT), a systematic review and meta-analysis of the relevant literature were performed. After a comprehensive search in the PubMed and Scopus databases, a total of 48 studies were qualitatively considered, and 44 were meta-analyzed. The factors of aging (standard mean difference [SMD]: −0.46; 95% confidence interval (CI), −0.74 to −0.19; I2: 73%; Tau2: 0.18) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (SMD: 0.30; 95% CI, 0.06 to 0.55; I2: 0%; Tau2: 0.00) were found to significantly increase the sucrose RT, whereas the DT only increased in subjects with a higher body mass index (SMD: 0.58; 95% CI, 0.35 to 0.82; I2: 0%; Tau2: 0.00). No effects of sex and tobacco smoking were found, and associations with alcohol consumption could not be assessed, as it was included as a variable in only one study. Feasible mechanisms underlying changes in sucrose thresholds include the modulation of hormones involved in energy and body weight homeostasis, taste bud abundance, taste brain signaling, and the gut–brain axis. The present work provides insights into the variables that should be considered when assessing sweet taste sensitivity, discusses the mechanisms underlying differences in sweet taste, and highlights the need for further research in the field of personalized nutrition.

Original languageEnglish
JournalComprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)3755-3773
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • Chemoperception, Detection threshold, Personalized nutrition, Recognition threshold, Sucrose

ID: 257703444